From studio to pop up gallery: Sarah meets artist Kellie Miller as she ventures into retail

In January Lauren and Sarah met with artist Kellie Miller at her new pop up gallery in Brighton’s Lanes.

Sarah chatting to Kellie in the pop up gallery space at Kellie Miller Arts on Market Street, Brighton

Sarah chatting to Kellie in the pop up gallery space at Kellie Miller Arts on Market Street, Brighton

Kellie kindly let us film a series of short ‘top tips’ videos in the beautifully presented Kellie Miller Arts gallery space, the videos will form part of the work we are doing this May with Yorkshire Artspace’s online professional development programme, Studio54. More details about our involvement can be found on their Money Matters webpages. http://www.studio54ya.org.uk/courses/money-matters/

Whilst we were there Sarah also interviewed Kellie about how she found the process of setting up the pop up gallery. As a predominantly studio based artist moving into a highly competitive retail environment Kellie’s pop up venture is a business model we are interested in hearing more about.

ST: Why open a space?

KM: For a long time I worked with galleries and didn’t feel my work was being best represented. I wanted more autonomy over how it would look so I decided to open a gallery space.

ST: What have been the 3 biggest learnings?

KM: Meeting my clients face to face. The hours involved in opening a retail space 7 days a week. There are complexities to that for maintaining a work / life balance. One of the major things I’ve learnt as well is the importance of the high street and how council policies affect whether people come out to shop or not.

ST: What have you learnt about your customer base?

KM: Having a retail space, other than having an open studio which is where I tend to do a lot of my marketing through a lot of my sales are direct sales through the studio, I’ve realized that people walking passed the shop are not as discerning, so I am having to educate people. So it’s new education, new clients, new people walking passed so it’s a huge learning curve in that sense whereas if you have an open studio people are much more targeted to come to you and they are interested in the arts. On the high street they are not necessarily interested in the arts so you have to almost stand out make them walk in and make your store more approachable.

ST: Of the things you have learnt in the pop up are there one or two things you would change going forward?

KM: One of the reasons I’d like to extend my time here is that I feel it is important for me to test the market. A pop up doesn’t give me a true indication of the success of the gallery. I had a good two months but I think over Christmas is not a good time for buying artwork. I need a whole year to assess the market, for me having a year to compare sales is a really good starting point and having the opportunity to do that is important so I can decide whether to take this further on maybe a five or ten year lease.

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